Last night I headed out to the infamous Merriweather Post Pavilion for a fantastic line-up of Matthew and the Atlas, The Low Anthem, and Mumford & Sons. All through out the day I had one major concern about this show: the heat. Over the past two days temperatures had reached 100 degrees or above. Therefore, having lawn seats, I was a little concerned about sitting under the hot afternoon sun for a few hours. Little did I know I would be shivering and hiding under a blanket half-way through Matthew and the Atlas’s set.
We arrived early to stake our claim on the back lawn. Apparently, not really early enough as there were already plenty of quality spots taken. It was sold out, so this really isn’t all that surprising. Sitting down, we awaited the started of the concert and commented on the fact that it really wasn’t quite as hot and unbearable as we had all feared. All the while, scary dark clouds began to come in from the right side of the venue. I made a ridiculous comment that the first little sighting of lightning was only heat lightning. However, shortly there after, the thunder, lightnings, and dark clouds came in even closer.
I would like to really explain whether I enjoyed Matthew and the Atlas or not, but it all kind of turns into a blur as the rains came down. I’m not talking about a slight drizzle either. The sky opened up and let everyone on the lawn regret saving ten bucks by not buying under the pavilion. We huddled close together and pulled the blanket over our heads; however, the rain soon became so heavy it quickly soaked through both blanket and clothing. Some concert goers decided to treat this as a perfect opportunity for dancing in the rain and mud slidding; however, all quickly ducked and covered as the thunder and lightning centered itself firmly over the venue. Then, to make matters worse, it began to hail as well. Finally, after about half an hour, it finally subsided.
At this point we started to walk out and count this one as a loss; however, the sky was clearing up, and we began to think about how much we had paid to be here. While debating what we should do, The Low Anthem took the stage. I noticed they sounded way better than the two albums I had listened to from them. Finally, despite being rather cold, we decided to climb the lawn back up to our very wet and muddy seats. Finally able to pay attention, I was rather impressed by this band that had failed to impress me on their recordings. I was fully expecting to be bored during this band, and they did have a few boring moments. But, overall, they managed to have far more energy than they do on their album. They even have one member play the saw on one of their songs. As pictured, they had one song where they all congregate around one microphone to harmonize on one of their more subdued tunes. It definitely made me want to give their albums another chance.
Waiting for Mumford & Sons to take the stage, the sold out venue began to fill up even more. There were clear indicators that Mumford had made it big. It almost made me sad I had never seen them in a smaller venue in England before they managed to hit it big. Mumford took the stage and opened with the first song off their album: “Sigh no More”. They played it to album perfection; however, this was one of the more frustrating things about the songs they played from their album. They played them almost all identical to the way in which they were recorded. It was of course great to see them play them live, I suppose it was just my hope to see them do a little something more unexpected. Some of the songs had a few different intros, but ultimately, they were all played exactly as they were recorded.
One of the highlights was the addition of new unrecorded material to the show. They stated that after this tour they would head home to record a new album, and therefore, wanted to try out some new material. These songs did follow the Mumford and Sons formula for song writing; however, they all got me excited for their next album to come out. Additionally, it was awesome to see just how musically talented they all are. All four main members moved about the stage transferring to different instruments for different songs. Marcus Mumford played guitar, mandolin, and drums in various songs. Country Winston stuck with his banjo most of the time, but moved to various other types of guitars including slide guitar as well. Ben Lovett played both keyboard and accordion, and Ted Dwane played stand-up bass, regular bass, and drums. They never seemed to stay with all the same instruments for any one song. My personal favorite songs to see them play live were “Roll Away Your Stone”, “Thistle and Weed”, and “White Blank Page”.
In the end, aside from becoming fairly frustrated with the type of people surrounding us, I really enjoyed the entire experience. It seemed like most people on the lawn were there to hear their two radio hits. They talked through all of the new material, and one man wearing a Megadeth T-shirt and flag bandana even yelled “America Rules!” and “Obama Sucks!” at unnecessary times. However, attempting to shut all of that out, I was quite happy we didn’t head home despite spending the rest of the show completely soaked. If you have the opportunity to catch this show somewhere, be sure to do it. Just let me know what Matthew and the Atlas sound like because I thought they seemed pretty good.